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Let's say a girl has dropped her toy and a boy comes up to her, picks up the toy, and instead of giving it back to her he keeps it. Which one of the following sentences communicates the idea the most naturally.

The boy came up and took the toy.

The boy came and took the toy from the girl.

The boy came up and took the toy away.

The boy came up and took the toy away from her.

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  • If she had dropped it, he didn't 'take it (away) from her' (that is, snatch it out of her hands), so it would have to be (1), or (3) if he went away with it. Nov 26, 2019 at 14:53

2 Answers 2

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The boy came up and took the toy.

"The boy came and took the toy." is more natural. This is compatible with what happened in your story, but he may or may not have kept it.

The boy came and took the toy from the girl.

This is correct use. But it does not mean what happened in your story; it implies the girl did not drop the toy here.

The boy came up and took the toy away.

"The boy came and took the toy away." is more natural. This is exactly what happens in your story, he takes the toy and leaves without giving it back.

The boy came up and took the toy away from her.

This is also OK for your story! However, it can be used if she had dropped the toy or not.

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  • If the boy is changing his position from below to get to the girl - for example if he is climbing a ladder - the "up" is OK there and natural.
    – BadZen
    Nov 26, 2019 at 17:49
  • There is also the phrase "came up from behind", if he is trying to surprise her by approaching from her back without her knowing.
    – BadZen
    Nov 26, 2019 at 17:50
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All of your examples sound fine.

If you are focusing on the girl's perspective, "came up (to her)" (meaning 'approached') is good. "Went up (to her)" would focus on the boy's perspective.

"From" emphasizes that the girl initially had the toy (in her hand, or in reach).

"Away" emphasizes that the girl no longer has access to the toy.

If I wanted to emphasize that the boy is being aggressive, I'd say "away from the girl".

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